Parent Café: Self-Care

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Hi, I am back with more helpful tips and hints, this time for the care providers.  We, as parents, are constantly reminded that our children/child comes first.  That is partially correct as parents; we must remember that our children will need us at peak performance most of the time.  Depending on their age group as to how much direct supervision and energy will be needed.  Albeit it’s hard to find personal time to refuel our energy. We know that spending time with our children helps them to socialize and learn the values of the family as well as community standards. We will not be able to carry out parental duties in an effective manner without self-care.

What is self-care?

 Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.  Though the question seems relatively simple of just how does a parent juggle all the tasks to do self-care?  Self-care often gets overlooked or dismissed to a later date, often a date that never happens.  Self-care is important for reducing anxiety as well as improving one’s mood. It is necessary for all people but especially for parents.

What isn’t self-care

Self-care is not a forced act or something we don’t enjoy doing.  A scholar once explained self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”  https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/

Below are a few helpful self-care tips:

  1. One of the main keys to not becoming overwhelmed by the steps in the process of developing a doable self-care plan. Keep it simple. 

  2. Developing a self-care plan that can help enhance one’s health, well-being and manage one’s stress. 

  3. Identify activities and practices that support your well-being as will assist you in sustaining a positive long-term self-care plan. Improving and increasing your life.

  4. Another crucial factor is that a self-care plan is personal to you.  Everyone’s approach will differ and should relate to the needs of you. 

  5. Self-care plans are useful for workplace/professional well-being, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and relationships.  Activities should be tailored to and meaningful to one’s self and intended goals. 

  6. Physical self-care should include a regular sleep routine, healthy diet, walk, and exercise. 

  7. Psychological self-care consists of reflective journaling, hobby, time away from emails and social media, relaxation, positive interaction with family and friends.

  8. Emotional self-care encompasses developing supportive frie­ndships, write three good things that you did each day, play your favorite sport, and talk with friends about how you are coping with life demands. 

  9. Spiritual self-care involves reflective meditation, walks, visit your church/mosque/temple, yoga, reflect with a close friend, download the 1 Giant Mind app, and learn mindfulness techniques and its benefits. 

  10. Once the plan has been drafted, keep it in a visible location, stick to your plan-practice regularly, and re-assess how you are doing and if it needs adjustments.

  11. Once you create your plan, do a cursory check for any barrier that might hinder you from moving forward.  Also, what can you do to remove these barriers?  If they cannot be removed, then one might adjust their self-care strategies. 

  12. Finally, relationship self-care involves making close relationships, e.g., partners, family, and children a priority attend dedicated events with family and friends, arrive to work, and leave on time every day.

Access the links below, to download and chart your self-care plan, it is really easy to do.

Another method of self-care that I want to reintroduce are the benefits associated with mindfulness techniques/exercises.  Let’s start with what mindfulness is:  The term mindfulness refers to a psychological state of awareness, the practices that promote this awareness, a mode of processing information, and a character trait. To be in step with up-to-date research, mindfulness means also “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment”  This definition can be found by clicking here.

Mindfulness-based skills can help both adults and children to cultivate emotion regulation, decreased reactivity, and increased response flexibility, and intrapersonal benefits.

 The 5 most common benefits of mindfulness are:

✔ Decreased Stress

✔ Decreased Depressive Symptoms

✔ Increases Self-Compassion

✔ Improved General Health

✔ Increases Positivity in Mental Health Outcomes

  • Deep Breathing (Mindfulness Exercise) promotes:

  • Breathing for Enlightenment-develops deep insight

  • Breathing for Relaxation-helps quieten and clear the mind

  • Breathing to Let Go of Negativity

  • Breathing for Inner Peace

  • Breathing to Learn about Your Body

  • Breathing to Connect Mind and Body

 Source: https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/meditation-and-breathing-benefits-of-mindful-breathing/

Incorporating mindfulness exercises into one’s self-care plan is an added benefit, a benefit that brings positive returns.  As this will, i.e., practicing mindfulness will engender a whole-body healing, relaxation, and a peaceful mind and spirit.  Therefore, one will likely return to the task at hand with an increase in their self-care toolbox, an arsenal of ways to bringing calm, peace, relaxation, and clearer thinking.


By Valerie Fluker, MA, APCC

All people come to counseling to relieve pain and suffering. They feel they have little to no hope left. What they have been doing isn’t working anymore or maybe never did. They feel out of control, scared, and do not know where to turn. Or they may need education in the form of Parenting or Co-parenting classes. Or some just need to work on relationship issues or manage anxiety. Regardless of what brought you to this website I can help. I am caring, understanding and I want you to feel better. I see great things happening for most people within a few sessions. These clients start to feel happy, gain more confident and report they are satisfied with their life. While I cannot guarantee you the same results, I have seen positive results with most clients.

I became a counselor because I wanted to harness great hope and positive energy and to help install healing for my clients. I consider working with people in therapy an honor and privilege to work with each client. In therapy, each person develops their positive mental wellness plan and great growth often takes place.  

I discovered my passion for counseling teens while volunteering for Riverside Youth Probation. I enjoyed seeing these teens learn and grow as they figure out who they will become. I also work with caregivers of dementia clients and I see the struggle to care for their loved one. I frequently work with people that suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma. I have specialized training in trauma, working with children and elder adults.

I am a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Purple City Alliance helps make The City of Riverside a Dementia Friendly City.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA).

I look forward to meeting and working with you.

Active Parenting

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This blog will focus our attention on active parenting tips for our children to increase their confidence and responsibility.  What is active parenting?  First and foremost, active parenting help impart to our children values that help create high functioning children and great adults. Active parenting involves instilling:

1.      Courage

2.      Self-esteem

3.      Responsibility

4.      Cooperation

These are just a few of the skills necessary for children to learn survival and life skills.   When thinking about active parenting, a proactive approach works best.  In other words, do not wait until the child does something wrong.  Instead, instill values and morals that will serve as your child’s foundation-a building block for growth.  Many parents believe instilling values, morals, and socialization is the purpose of active parenting.  Find your child doing good and encourage your child by telling them how grateful you are that they did this (___________________) Something like I appriacate it when you help me put the dishes away or when you make you bed or when you are nice to your little sister. Find a way to let your child know that you care and are watching. Ask your child what do they like best about their drawing or their art project. These are just some of the ways to actively parent.

Let us take a quick look at the four basic blocks. 

  • Courage-when instilled as a foundation; children have the strength they will need to try and try again. This build resilience a great tool for life.

  • Self-esteem-that is to possess a positive image of self.

  • Responsibility-a child is more than capable of making decisions as well as accept responsibility for that decision.

  • Cooperation-parents encourage children to work together as well as with others for a positive end.  Cooperation is also an essential element needed to facilitate teamwork efforts.

The four basic blocks are important for every child to learn. As a parent; we will not be able to be there for everything our child does. Having our children to use decision-making, along with the courage to stick with his/her decision, is crucial.  Another important part of active parenting that revolves around protecting and preparing children to be equipped to survive and thrive in society.  Important to that end is for children to feel good about themselves and their decisions and act them out with confidence in everyday life.

For more information on Active Parenting click here

Most parents can agree that is parenting is a full-time job, with no instruction manual. Most parents are unaware of the pivotal role they play in shaping the people their children will eventually become.  Parents become teachers, role models, protector and confidante, and many hats, all to get their child/children to a safe place in life. 

Unfortunately, parents are  tasked with the job of telling your child a hundred or so times the same set of directives. This is needed to help your child’s brain fully understand and be retained in their memory.  Essential to effect communicative is a relationship with your child is a vital component in developing a healthy relationship between the parent(s) and children. 

Learning how to develop effective communication with your child engenders a stable and loving home life (which helps keeps parents sane).  Noting day-to-day activities, e.g., homework, meals, and bedtimes flow more smoothly. Effective communication may also improve your child’ long-term health and development.   Studies indicate that children who don’t feel or believe they have a good relationship with their parents are more likely to have low self-esteem, difficulties in school and emotional problems, and are a greater risk for using drugs and experimenting with risky sexual behavior [source:  Mental Health America].

Building a strong relationship with your child/children

1.      Be consistent with children.

a. Hour to hour, day to day, and week to week, in short, every waking moment remain consistent with rules and discipline

b. Parents must practice the following rules as well, or our children will not either

c. Focus on one key behavior (or misbehavior) that needs addressing

d. The behavior should reflect a reward or disciplinary action [source:  Family Education]

2.       Stay positive-remain calm, do not yell.  Always reward your child for their good behavior. 

a.  The only way to reverse negative behaviors is to make rules that you can keep and enforce.

3.      Be Patient-Even though one may desire quick results; people don’t change overnight.

a.  It took time for your children to master their misbehavior; it will take equal time to change them.

4.      Expect resistance-Never fear your children are going to test you, especially if you tried enforcing the rule with them before, but failed to follow through.

a.  Change can be challenging, and your children are not likely to embrace your new rules.   Nevertheless, do not give in or up parents you are likely to win.

5.      Stick with it-In order for change to stay long term; consistency is the key

a. Consistency will show your children the behaviors and values that are important to you and in turn, teach them self-discipline [source:  Family Education].

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A barrier to active parenting: when both parents must work and some parents must work two jobs for family upkeep.  Important to families wherein both parents must work is to choose quality over quantity.  That means, it is not how much time is spent, but the purposeful meaning embodied in that brief time. 

To this end, I am posting a summary of children’s rights as set forth by The UN Convention on the rights of the Child/ UNICEF for every child they list about 42; however, I will only list a few https://www.unicef.org.nz/child-rights

1.      Be Recognized

2.      Adequate care

3.      Parental guidance

4.      Life

5.      Live with their parents

6.      Freedom of expression

7.      Freedom of thought

8.      Freedom from abuse

9.      An education

10. Personal development, survival, and protection


By Valerie Fluker, MA, APCC

All people come to counseling to relieve pain and suffering. They feel they have little to no hope left. What they have been doing isn’t working anymore or maybe never did. They feel out of control, scared, and do not know where to turn. Or they may need education in the form of Parenting or Co-parenting classes. Or some just need to work on relationship issues or manage anxiety. Regardless of what brought you to this website I can help. I am caring, understanding and I want you to feel better. I see great things happening for most people within a few sessions. These clients start to feel happy, gain more confident and report they are satisfied with their life. While I cannot guarantee you the same results, I have seen positive results with most clients.

I became a counselor because I wanted to harness great hope and positive energy and to help install healing for my clients. I consider working with people in therapy an honor and privilege to work with each client. In therapy, each person develops their positive mental wellness plan and great growth often takes place.  

I discovered my passion for counseling teens while volunteering for Riverside Youth Probation. I enjoyed seeing these teens learn and grow as they figure out who they will become. I also work with caregivers of dementia clients and I see the struggle to care for their loved one. I frequently work with people that suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma. I have specialized training in trauma, working with children and elder adults.

I am a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Purple City Alliance helps make The City of Riverside a Dementia Friendly City.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA).

I look forward to meeting and working with you.

Parent Café

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Hi, this is Valerie, and I am back this time with more co-parenting tips, as well as more do’s and don’ts.  We will begin with a recap of what co-parenting is along with what co-parenting isn’t.

Let us peruse the dictionary definition of co-parent: 

The definition of co-parenting is a process where two parents work together to raise a child even though they are divorced or separated and no longer live together. An example of co-parenting is when a divorced mother and father share legal and physical custody of their child.

Two houses - Ten rules for healthy co-parenting:

  1. Don't force your children to choose sides. ...

  2. Opt for a positive tone when you talk to your children about your ex….

  3. Don't make your children your messengers. ...

  4. Detach yourself from your ex-spouse. ...

  5. Limits and expectations for your children. ...

  6. Be a responsible adult…modeling

How does co-parenting work…are you working cooperatively with the other parent-doing and modeling ones best for the benefit of your child/children? 

Tips that might help one prepare for their co-parenting obligation

  1. Get your feelings out somewhere else. Never vent to your child. ...

  2. Stay kid-focused. ...

  3. Never use kids as messengers. ...

  4. Keep your issues to yourself. ...

  5. Set a business-like tone. ...

  6. Make requests. ...

  7. Listen. ...

  8. Show restraint.

We will take a brief look at what cooperative parenting…

It is a style of cooperative parenting wherein conflict is low, and parents can effectively communicate about their child/children…Conflicted parenting is the worst for children, who are often thrust in the middle of the conflicts.  Children most often adjust to their parent’s divorce or separation much easier when conflict is not a part of the parenting environment.

Granted, cooperative parenting is a challenge, even in the most well-intentions situations can become difficult at times.  When parents are raising children in two homes, it can be an incredibly challenging experience for all involved. 

I know I mentioned “backpacking” in previous blogs; however, I am compelled to mention it again.  I will define what backpacking is and its devastating effects it can have when forming a cooperative co-parenting relationship…

In short, the backpack contents are a collection of real and fantasied hurts, betrayals, ongoing conflict, etc. to sum the backpack contents; it contains a collection of unresolved adult issues.  The person did not address during the relationship, or the verbalized discontentment was ignored by the other partner.  Therefore, intimacy continues into the co-parenting environment, making it impossible to present a congenial-united, conflict-free environment for the child/children.  I have found this to be the most injurious to forming or even understanding the importance of a united front.  A conflict-free environment will undoubtedly be the right path to successful co-parenting.

Nevertheless, I found a great article on rules for co-parenting.  Below are a few Do’s and Don’ts rules.

RULES FOR CO-PARENTING

  1. Always, the decisions made by the parents will be for your child’s psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being and safety.

  2. Do make and confirm parenting-time arrangements beforehand between the parents without involving your child.

  3. Do notify each other promptly of any need to deviate from the schedule between homes, including canceling time with your child, rescheduling, and punctuality.

  4. Do communicate with your co-parent and make similar rules about discipline, routines, sleeping arrangements, and schedules between homes. Appropriate discipline should be exercised by mutually agreed upon adults.

  5. Do keep your co-parent informed of any scholastic, medical, psychiatric, or extracurricular activities or appointments of your child.

  6. Do keep your co-parent always informed of your address and telephone number. If you are out of town with your child, do provide your co-parent the basic travel itinerary and a phone number so that you and your child may be reached in case of an emergency.

  7. Do refer to your co-parent as your child’s “mother” or “father” in conversation, rather than using “my ex.”

  8. Do not talk negatively, or allow others to talk negatively, about the other parent, his or her family, and friends, or his or her home within hearing range of your child. This includes belittling remarks, ridicule, or bringing up allegations, whether valid or invalid, about issues involving the adults in the co-parenting relationship.

  9. Do not question your child about your co-parent, the activities of your co-parent, or regarding your co-parent’s personal life. In other words, do not use your child to spy on the other parent.

  10. Do not argue or have heated conversations when your child is present.

  11. Do not try to “win your child over” at the expense of your child’s other parent.

  12. Do not schedule extracurricular activities for your child during the other parent’s time without your co-parent’s consent. However, do work together to allow your child to be involved in such activities.

  13. Do not involve your child in adult issues and conversations about custody, the court, or the other parent.

  14. Do not ask your child where he or she wants to live.

  15. Do not attempt to alienate your co-parent from your child’s life.

  16. Do not allow stepparents or others to negatively alter or modify your relationship with your co-parent.

  17. Do not use phrases that draw your child into your issues or make your child feel guilty about the time spent with the other parent. Do not say “I miss you!” Do say, “I love you!”

http://www.childreninthemiddle.com/documents/rulesforcoparenting.pdf

I believe that co-parenting in a congenial environment is possible; just as I believe for some, it is virtually impossible.  As individuals, I will let you be the judge of the that. 

Hope to see you in co-parenting class!


By Valerie Fluker, MA, APCC

All people come to counseling to relieve pain and suffering. They feel they have little to no hope left. What they have been doing isn’t working anymore or maybe never did. They feel out of control, scared, and do not know where to turn. Or they may need education in the form of Parenting or Co-parenting classes. Or some just need to work on relationship issues or manage anxiety. Regardless of what brought you to this website I can help. I am caring, understanding and I want you to feel better. I see great things happening for most people within a few sessions. These clients start to feel happy, gain more confident and report they are satisfied with their life. While I cannot guarantee you the same results, I have seen positive results with most clients.

I became a counselor because I wanted to harness great hope and positive energy and to help install healing for my clients. I consider working with people in therapy an honor and privilege to work with each client. In therapy, each person develops their positive mental wellness plan and great growth often takes place.  

I discovered my passion for counseling teens while volunteering for Riverside Youth Probation. I enjoyed seeing these teens learn and grow as they figure out who they will become. I also work with caregivers of dementia clients and I see the struggle to care for their loved one. I frequently work with people that suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma. I have specialized training in trauma, working with children and elder adults.

I am a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Purple City Alliance helps make The City of Riverside a Dementia Friendly City.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA).

I look forward to meeting and working with you.

Parenting

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For many of us we are taught that parenting is as natural as putting proper clothing or grabbing an umbrella when it is raining. However, parenting is not an automatic in our lives but instead learned behavior. Our children were not born with a how-to-manual; darn it. Therefore, we must learn how to become loving, caring and effective parents.

According to Webster Unabridged Dictionary parent is termed as a protector or guardian; further it states that a parent as one who act as parent of; to parent children with both love and discipline, and/or a person who brings up and cares for another.

That interpretation of a parent fails to give one the method involved in caring for another or parenting. So just how are we to know how to raise our child/children? Most of us use what our parents taught us. But is that enough?

The three major goals of parenting include:

  1. Ensuring children’s health and safety

  2. Preparing children for life as productive adults

  3. Transmitting cultural values (Encyclopedia of Psychology)

Thank goodness we have some innate abilities or we would really be in trouble.

Are single parent households uncommon?

  • No-over the past 20 years single parent homes in US increased

  • Single parent households have become more common than nuclear families (both mother/father)

  • Nuclear families consist of father, mother and children; sometimes grandparents raising grandchildren

  • Modern family structure households headed by fathers only, mothers only or grandparent only; as well as aunts, uncles, and sometimes adult siblings

 Now to revisit the mechanisms of parenting:

  • Parents and caretakers make sure children are healthy and safeequip them with the skills and resources to succeed as adults, and transmit basic cultural values to them.

  • Parents and caretakers offer their children love, acceptance, appreciation, encouragement, and guidance.

  • Parents and caretakers provide the most intimate context for the nurturing and protection of children as they develop their personalities and identities and as they mature physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially.

  • Information courtesy of American Psychological Association
    Read more on Positive Parenting

 What are the benefits of positive parenting?

Positive parent-child relationships provide a foundation for children’s, learning for which they bring into their adulthood.  With parents’ sensitive, responsive, and predictable care, young children develop the skills they need to succeed in life.  Early parent-child relationships have powerful effects on children’s emotional well-being (Dawson & Ashman, 2000), their basic coping and problem-solving abilities, and future capacity for relationships (Lerner & Castellino, 2002). From Positive Parent-Child-Relationships. 

4-Key points to positive parenting success:

  • An Effective Parent
    your words and actions influence your child the way you want them too.

  • A Consistent Parent
    you follow similar principles or practices in your words and actions.

  • An Active Parent
    you participate in your child’s life.

  • An Attentive Parent
    You pay attention to your child’s life and observe what goes on.

What is community and how important is it?

  • Instructing child(ren) in social skills

  • Teaching child(ren) how to share

  • Instructing child(ren) about fairness (age appropriate)

    • Important when engaging play dates

  • Model, Model your best selves

    • Child (ren) do-as-one-do and not what one say!

Hey parents, let us remember that parenting skills are not automatic nor does a how-to-manual magically appear at the birth of the child. Parenting is largely learned behaviors as well as information passed from one generation to another.  It is okay to ask questions, read a book or two, or enroll in a parenting class, as this is ok for moms, dads, grandparents, or any designated care provider.  It’s important to strived to become an effective parent, practice consistency, be active in your child/children’s life, and do more listening than talking. If you need more help on parenting or building a great relationship with your child, call me and I can help. I work in both locations, Murrieta and Riverside.


by Valerie Fluker, Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselor

All people come to counseling to relieve pain and suffering. They feel they have little to no hope left. What they have been doing isn’t working anymore or maybe never did. They feel out of control, scared, and do not know where to turn. Or they may need education in the form of Parenting or Co-parenting classes. Or some just need to work on relationship issues or manage anxiety. Regardless of what brought you to this website I can help. I am caring, understanding and I want you to feel better. I see great things happening for most people within a few sessions. These clients start to feel happy, gain more confident and report they are satisfied with their life. While I cannot guarantee you the same results, I have seen positive results with most clients.

I became a counselor because I wanted to harness great hope and positive energy and to help install healing for my clients. I consider working with people in therapy an honor and privilege to work with each client. In therapy, each person develops their positive mental wellness plan and great growth often takes place.  

I discovered my passion for counseling teens while volunteering for Riverside Youth Probation. I enjoyed seeing these teens learn and grow as they figure out who they will become. I also work with caregivers of dementia clients and I see the struggle to care for their loved one. I frequently work with people that suffer from depression, anxiety and trauma. I have specialized training in trauma, working with children and elder adults.

I am a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Purple City Alliance helps make The City of Riverside a Dementia Friendly City.

  • American Counseling Association (ACA).

I look forward to meeting and working with you.